Re article on Savannah Memorial Park: I am very disturbed and concerned as to its future.

I am a member of one of the old pioneer families (Wiggins) and as a child I remember going there with my family to decorate all the graves in our family plot under that beautiful old oak tree. All of the other pioneer families would also be there decorating their plots and it was sort of a "party affair.'

The Wiggins family has 32 graves located in or around our plot that we still decorate every Memorial Day. Most of my relatives from the Wiggins side of the family are buried there, including both of my parents, as well as my half-brother who was killed in a Japanese prison camp during World War II. The Wiggins family was very active in the city of El Monte and there is so much history related to every grave of all the other pioneer families (Slack, Lodge, Means, Durfee, etc.).

I am saddened to think that anyone would even consider moving the cemetery. Asian business owner Trang Hoang knew there was a cemetery near when he located his business there, so he has no right to complain about customers' "being afraid of the ghosts.' If the Asians fear the spirits now, what do they think will happen when they disturb these burial grounds?

I realize that the property where the cemetery is located must be very valuable, but I hope that someone will see past the money issue and tell the developers that we do not need another Asian strip mall or housing development and that our pioneers, veterans, etc. deserve to lie in peace where they are now buried.

I am a member of the cemetery board, but was unable to attend the last meeting due to illness. I don't know what the answer is, but I do know that there has been talk for a few years about trying to have the cemetery declared a historical monument. There must be someone out there that could help make this a reality.

If this is not possible, then I feel there should be someway that the cities of Rosemead and El Monte could contribute some funds to help preserve this historic site. Maybe El Monte Cemetery Association board member Bob Bruesch has the right idea about getting the local schools involved in uncovering the history of the cemetery, or perhaps there is someone out there that has time and could somehow research some of the history and publish it into a book that could be sold. I am still working and do not have much time to contribute, so I do understand where part of the problem lies.

I hope that someone will come up with a better solution than those suggested in the article.

Janice Wiggins White
El Monte

Email sent to which first alerted us:

From: <>
To: <>
Sent: Friday, July 30, 2004 9:31 AM
Subject: [CALosAngeles] Savannah Memorial Park

Whittier Daily News (Editorial)

Grant cemetery landmark status
Thursday, July 29, 2004 - 

THE Savannah  Memorial Park in Rosemead has been the final resting place of San Gabriel Valley  residents for more than 150 years. And before that, it was an Indian burial  ground.  The cemetery on Valley Boulevard was the site where pioneers on the Santa Fe Trail would bury those who had died on the journey from points east to what's now Rosemead and El Monte. It has been the scene of a few tragic suicides and a  fatal shootout between police and robbers. It is also the site where Chinese  characters adorn the headstones of two Japanese immigrants, the first-known use  of the writing in a public place outside of Chinatown.  Resting beneath its grassy fields are the founding families of the region, Civil War veterans and even a veteran of the War of 1812. And the graves are not  limited to the park others are known to be underneath Valley Boulevard and the  the surrounding businesses. 

Unfortunately, all that history may be forced to make way for development, as staff writer Jason Kosareff reported Sunday.  The El Monte Cemetery Association, which owns the graveyard, is saying that without help, the group will soon be forced to sell the land to developers salivating over the property.

Of course, the graves would be moved and the relatives notified. But moving such an old cemetery would mean losing a piece of the Valley's heritage in a community that frankly, has not done well in preserving historic resources.  Ideally, the association would like to make the cemetery a historic landmark with the state. However, the group fears it does not have the resources to pull  it off.

That's a call for help that should be heeded. Where are those groups that say Rosemead needs to maintain its old-town atmosphere? With the ferocity that some  groups are showing to oppose a Wal-Mart, ardent Rosemead residents should fight  for this forgotten treasure.  Perhaps Wal-Mart itself can kick in some bucks? With all its talk about giving back to the community, here's a chance for the retail behemoth to puts  its money where its mouth is. 

As for the Asian businesses who see the Savannah Memorial Park a hindrance to their patrons, they need to respect the history that made their businesses possible.

Your View; Pasadena Star News, July 31, 2004:

Relocation the answer

I found the information about the history of the Savannah Memorial Park very interesting (front page, July 25)

I believe the Savannah Memorial Park should definitely be preserved. I certainly hope that the city of Rosemead will make a commitment to end the nonsense of Trang Hoang and any other business owners in that community who consider the memorial park a detriment to their businesses.

A simple solution for Hoang would be to relocate his video business to an area where spirits won't be present. He certainly must have known of the cemetery's location and that the Asian people have an aversion to shopping where they believe "evil spirits' are present when he opened his business five years ago.

Patricia Gay
San Gabriel

Your View, Pasadena Star-News, August 3, 2004:

Preserve cemetery

Re Article, Sun., July 25 "Graves Asians fear cemetery spirits':

I am appalled that the city of Rosemead would actually consider removing the remains of the people who are buried at the Savannah Memorial Park cemetery. As stated in the article, there are several old grave sites that should be preserved.

I for one vote for the state funding to make this a historical landmark. Who are these developers anyway?

Barbara D. Miller

Cemetery at center

I first heard of Savannah Memorial park Cemetery in Rosemead from my grandmother, Viola Shrode, who with her family settled briefly in Savannah about 1871 after a nine- month trek from east Texas to California by oxen-drawn covered wagons. None of them actually ended up in the cemetery.

It is too bad the cemetery may be lost to superstition and financial pressures. Pioneer cemeteries in city centers, as in Boston, have become tourist attractions.

If a fund is set up for covering the costs of designating the cemetery as a historical landmark, I will be happy to make a contribution.

Sidney K. Gally

Your View, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, August 4, 2004:

Graves are forever

I just learned that there is a possibility that the avarice of developers will disrupt the graves in the Savannah Memorial Park and Cemetery.

My great-grandfather, a Civil War veteran, my great-grandmother, my grandmother (Nettie C. Waldron) and grandfather (J. Edgar Waldron), plus my great uncle (Samuel Boyer) and several other members of the family are buried there.

When they purchased their plots it was to be forever. Have we no veneration for our ancestors?

Thank you for your article.

Diane Isensee Knaefler
Henniker, NH

Your View, Pasadena Star-News, August 5, 2004:

Cemetery preservation

The El Monte Cemetery Association has quite a dilemma on its hands if it cannot afford to continue to hold, operate or maintain the Savannah Memorial Park in Rosemead.

This cemetery is also known as the El Monte Cemetery or at least that is the name the state recorded when it conducted surveys of California cemeteries between 1950 and 1985. It is by all means one of California's historic cemeteries and represents early exploration and settlement in California, probably before and after the Mexican War.

The state's register for this cemetery cites that it was established in 1852, just two years after California attained statehood. I do not know when the El Monte Cemetery Association acquired the cemetery, but they were not incorporated until 1920.

California's statutes governing cemeteries provided for the incorporation of Rural Cemetery Associations in 1859 (repealed 1931). It does appear that the cemetery was in use by the public for some 60-plus years before the El Monte Cemetery Association became a legal California cemetery corporation and was duly authorized to own, operate and maintain a cemetery in the state.

From these few facts and presumptions, it would be our opinion that the title to the El Monte Cemetery, as it was used by the public previous to the formation of the El Monte Cemetery Association, vested in the public through operation of California law (former Political Code section 3105, now substantially embodied as Health and Safety Code section 8126.)

The public acquired legal title to the cemetery as a result of its continuous and uninterrupted use of the cemetery for five or more years after Jan. 1, 1873. The public's title was and is superior to that of the El Monte Cemetery Association, as the law prohibits adverse possession of lands in public title.

Even if the above were not accepted as factual, cemetery associations formed under the former Rural Cemetery Association Act are subject to regulation by the Department of Consumer Affairs Cemetery and Funeral Bureau. This means that the El Monte Cemetery Association must abide by the laws and regulations of the Health and Safety Code pertaining to private cemeteries.

The El Monte Cemetery Association cannot by law sell this cemetery to any entity that has not been issued a Certificate of Authority by the Cemetery and Funeral Bureau to operate the cemetery. It cannot sell the land as other than cemetery land unless it removes all human remains from its acreage and petitions the Superior Court of California to remove the land's dedication to cemetery purposes.

The situation faced by the El Monte Cemetery Association is not unique in California. Many small cemetery associations have functioned for many years without establishing endowed care funds to provide for the cemeteries when they can no longer generate revenues. As is being contemplated by this Association, those cemeteries are basically abandoned, along with all the many original citizens of our state.

As state coordinator of California Saving Graves, I know that California on the whole has a dismal record in its treatment of its cemeteries, both historic and modern. Remove a cemetery and you remove the evidence of all those people and the history their lives represented to the very community the cemetery represents. The history of the community is, in essence, often entirely removed.

It is a shame that the Asian people who have moved into this community cannot be convinced to respect the cemeteries that existed there before they arrived. Their discomfort with the location of the cemeteries is not a criteria reviewed by the Superior Court of California when it approves applications to remove and relocate cemeteries.

We believe the dead should be left to rest in peace. We believe the cemeteries of our state's early and historic communities should be left unmolested as their original founders intended.

We would be willing to assist any interested persons who would like to help preserve this cemetery so that it may remain where it was established in 1852.

Sue Silver

Information from other sources:


Los Angeles county deeds indicate that in 1866, Samuel King purchased from Henry Dalton and John Wheeler, 100 acres of the Rancho San Francisquito between Los Angeles and El Monte [re: DB 8, pg 53/4; 30 May 1866]. King paid $1,200.00 for this tract of land, which the deed describes as "...the land King now resides on...". Deeds also show that in 1869, Samuel, his mother and his siblings sell off numerous lots in the City of Lexington.


Henry Dalton (owner of the land upon which El Monte was founded)

Henry Dalton was born in London on October 8, 1804. On July 7, 1819, at age 14, he was apprenticed to Winnall Thomas Dalton as merchant tailor for a period of seven years. In 1827 he was in Peru, where he purchased for $3000.00 certain articles in corner Public House in Callao, apparently for commercial purposes. He engaged in coastal trade and commerce in Peru and Mexico, extending his interests in Mexico when he contracted for the purchase of the estate of the Marques de San Miguel de Aguayo. Through 1842 Dalton's business correspondence, although including Peruvian interests, was written from cities on the Pacific coast of Mexico, while his coastal trade was extended northward to San Diego, San Pedro and Los Angeles. He acquired property in both San Pedro and Los Angeles as early as 1843, from which time he appears to have been definitely established in California. In 1844 he purchased Rancho Azusa from its original grantee Luis Arenas; thereafter interested himself more in ranching than in shipping, although he maintained his commercial establishment in Los Angeles as an outlet for the surplus production of his various ranches. After 1846, when he charted a cargo vessel between Callao, Peru and California, he seems to have diminished his trading relations with Peru, but he never abandoned his Mexican contacts.

Acquisition of land in California progressed rapidly after the Azusa purchase. In 1845 Pio Pico granted two extensions to Rancho Azusa, one of which had been part of the San Gabriel Mission lands. Henry Dalton gradually accumulated properties until he became the owner of five ranches: Azusa, San Francisquito, San Jose and Addition, and Santa Anita. Other miscellaneous properties were acquired in and near Los Angeles. Santa Anita was sold in 1854; Francisquito was disposed of in small tracts between 1867 and 1875. Azusa was lost to the squatters through a series of highly questionable court decisions. San Jose and Addition became entangled in land litigation and were lost, while the miscellaneous property was gradually sold or lost as well.

Henry Dalton was married in 1847 to María Guadalupe Zamorano, daughter of María Luisa Arguello de Zamorano and Agustín Vicente Zamorano. Dalton was 43 years of age, his bride 15. The couple had eleven children, seven of which outlived their father: Winnall Augustin, Luisa, Soyla, Henry Francisco, Elena, Valentine, and Joseph Russell.

Dalton had three major dedications during his lifetime after establishing himself in California: the welfare of his family, his fight to keep his lands, and his efforts to obtain an equitable settlement in his claims before the Mexican government. These Mexican claims arose out of two events: damages to property sustained during the Mexican-American war of 1845-1848, during which he not only was in sympathy with the Mexican cause, but placed a considerable sum of money and supplies at the disposal of the Mexican governor of California. He also suffered material damages, as well as the loss of livestock stolen from ranchos Azusa and Santa Anita, when the troops of Fremont and Stockton entered Los Angeles. The second event occasioning claims in Mexico stemmed from the purchase he had made in 1840 of the lands forming part of the estate of the Marques de Aguayo, but to which he had never been given either clear title or possession. The Mexican government readily accepted the validity of both claims, and made payment in bonds which proved to be unredeemable during Dalton's lifetime because of the precarious condition of the Mexican economy. Thus the Mexican claims, like the California land litigation lasted many years: the former from 1846 until after Henry Dalton's death, being continued by his heirs; the latter from the early 1850s, culminating in the loss of Azusa in 1881.

Dalton never abandoned the hope of recovering at least part of the lost lands, and attempted on several occasions to repurchase sections of his ranches. This was an ambitious project, since he was deeply mortgaged during the entire period of litigation, largely because of the expenses caused by squatter claims on Azusa after 1858, the date of the erroneous and detrimental Hancock Survey. The mortgages were held by F. L. A. Pioche, later by the Pioche estate heirs.

Many of the Dalton papers are personal, concerned with purely family matters. This aspect becomes even more accentuated after Dalton's death in 1884, and we are able to watch the separate branches of the family grow and develop. Marriages, births, divorce, death, joys and anguish, show through the family letters.


Charles G. Andrew (past president of the El Monte Cemetery Association, circa 1922)

           A direct descendent of  Captain William Johnson, one of El Monte’s founders and prominent among the builders of the city in its later growth, is the name of Charles G. Andrew, who was born February 14, 1875 in San Bernardino.  Mr. Andrew’s father was Tilghman D. Andrew, a native of Maryland, coming to California at an early date.  His mother was in maidenhood, Sarah Ann James, a native of California, being born near the site of the old mill on the Huntington estate, and whose father managed and operated the mill.  Her father, in 1860, moved to San Bernardino, where he operated several lumber mills.  His death occurred in 1911.
            Charles G. Andrew, in 1881, was six years old, was brought to El Monte, where he was educated in the public schools.  On reaching his majority he engaged in farming, and in 1903, acquired and settled on 22 acres of land on South Lexington, near the Durfee ranch.  Here he remained for twenty-seven years, settling the place to walnuts and otherwise improving his property.  In 1930, he sold his ranch, and moved to Alhambra.  A short while later, he removed to Wilmar, where he now engages in the Real Estate business.
            Mr. Andrew has twice married, his first marriage being in 1896 to Miss Edna Taylor, a native of Michigan, whose parents were likewise natives of that State.  To this union were born four children; Florence, (Mrs. L.T. Moore) of Pomona; Ray J., of San Gabriel; Roy M., of Alhambra and George T., of El Monte.  The mother died in 1914.
            Mr. Andrew’s second marriage was in 1916, to Eunice (Price) Haws, a native of Iowa, whose father and mother were born in Maryland and Illinois, respectively.  They now reside in Pasadena.  To Mr. and Mrs. Andrew have been born four children:  Saraellen, Charles D., Barbara Ann and June.  June is deceased, while the remainder are all at present, members of the Andrew household.  Mr. Andrew is also the mother of a son by a previous marriage, A. Arthur Hawes, who resides in Whittier.
            Fraternally, Mr. Andrew is a member of the M.W.A. and the I.O.G.T. (Good Templars).  Politically, he is a staunch Republican, and in religion, he and Mrs. Andrew are Methodists.  He has rendered valuable services to the community by his active cooperation in various civic organizations.  For thirteen years he was Clerk of the El Monte High School Board of Trustees, and served six years as trustee on the Temple School Board.  He was a deputy county assessor for six years, president of the El Monte Cemetary Association and its beginning in 1922; a director in the Mountain View Walnut Growers Association, and served as President of the El Monte Chamber of Commerce for two years.
            Still active in his real estate work, Mr. Andrew resided at 1921 Del Mar Avenue, in Wilmar.
            In 1922 mr. Andrew directed the work of bringing a large stone from the mountains, north of El Monte, which on May 30th of that year was placed in the El Monte Cemetery On this large stone was placed a bonze tablet dedicating it to the memory of the unknown California Pioneers.  Mr. Andrew was Chairman of the unveiling ceremony, at which a large number of representative California Pioneers were present.

From same as above:

Frank A. Forst  (past secretary and treasurer of the El Monte Cemetery Association, 1920s)

             Born in Alsace Lorraine, February 3, 1842, Frank A. Forst, El Monte’s first undertaker, emigrated to America in 1863, and a short time later came to California by way of the Isthmus of Panama.
            Mr. Forst was the son of Joseph and Saloma Forst, who were also natives of France, and who died in that country.  Educated in his native country, Mr. Forst later learned the trade of cabinet-maker and shortly following his arrival in San Francisco, he came to Southern California and settled near Savannah and engaged in his trade.  In this work he was active for a number of years.  Later he engaged extensively in coffin- making, which probably led to his ultimate decision to enter the undertaking business.
            Believed to be some time in the seventies, though not definitely determined, Mr. Forst acquired the old stage tavern in Savannah, then known as the Bennett Hotel.  This he operated for about four years, at the end of which time he sold it back to Mr. Bennett.
            In 1887 Mr. Forst opened an undertaking establishment in Savannah; which was the first concern of its kind to be conducted in the vicinity.  Successful in this work, Mr. Forst continued in that line of endeavor for the remainder of his active career, selling out in 1911 to J.M. Schanel, the present funeral director, who later moved the establishment to its present location in El Monte.
            Mr. Forst was united in marriage April 2, 1869 with Miss Theresa Frohling, a native of Westphalia, Prussia and a daughter of Francis and Lidvine (Trudevind) Frohling, also natives of Prussia.  Mrs. Forst was born in 1850 and came to America with her parents in 1867, coming on to California a short time later with one of her brothers and settling in the vicinity of Savannah.
            To Mr. and Mrs. Forst were born eight children, one of whom died in infancy.  Those still living are:  Katherine, of San Luis Obispo; Frank A., of Saugus, California; Clara, (Mrs. W.F. Porteous), of Fairfax, California; Matilda, of Tucson, Arizona; Herbert C., of Rosemead; and Antoinette and Vivian.
            When he sold his business to Mr. Schanel, Mr. Forst retired from active life and spent the remainder of his days in Rosemead.  In religion he was a devout Catholic.  He had no fraternal affiliations, but was greatly interested in politics, contributing as he could to the interest of the Democratic Party.  He also was a supporter of all community welfare, and aided in the promotion of better local educational facilities.  For a number of years he served as trustee of the Savannah school.  Following the early organization of the El Monte Cemetery Association Mr. Forst served as its secretary and treasurer for several years.
             Death claimed Mr. Forst in January 1935.  Mrs. Forst died October 29, 1939.


Albert N. WALDRON was born on 15 Jan 1842 in Locke, Cayuga Co, NY.56 He died on 21 Jan 1923 in El Monte, Los Angeles Co, CA.396 He was buried on 24 Jan 1923 in El Monte, Los Angeles Co, CA.396 Buried in El Monte Cemetery.
Albert Waldron was a farmer in NY and was on Sherman's March to the Sea. Rose referred to him as a "carpetbagger" after the Civil War. Albert enlisted 8-11-1862 at Manchester, WI in Company C. 32nd Regiment, Wisconsin Infantry and was discharged 6-12-1865 at Washington, DC. After his death, Margaret received a Widow's pension of $30.00 /month from the US Pension Office.

Parents: Joseph WALDRON and Rebecca DOANE.

Spouse: Margaret WHITEHEAD. Albert N. WALDRON and Margaret WHITEHEAD were married on 25 Dec 1866 in Markesan, Green Lake Co, WI.397 Children were: Rosetta WALDRON.


Celia Ann Cole  (see information below on William Baker)

15 Nov 1871 State of Texas issued unconditional certificate that states Aaron Murchison had emigrated to Republic of Texas previous to 01 January 1842 and was entitled to 320 acres of land. [Unconditional Certificate # 125, General Land Office, Texas]

1850 US CENSUS, Burleson County, Texas
Page 429
Household 55/55 (next door to Celia's parents)

MURSHON, Aron 29 M merchant $547 NC
Celian 14 F IL

1851 Tax roll Burleson County. Aaron Murchison was assessed 1 poll tax $0.50, state tax $0.50 and county tax $0.25.

7 Feb 1852 Travis County, Texas - Aaron Murchison transferred certificate #125 to Benjamin Gooch. The 320 acres of land were located in Llano County by Benjamin Gooch who received final patent/title in June 1854. [transfer in General Land Office, Texas]

1852 Tax roll Burleson County. Aaron Murchison owned following taxable property: 1 horse valued at $45; 2 cattle, $15. He was assessed a poll tax $0.50; state tax $0.59; and county tax $0.29. Murdo Murchison agt Margaret taxed on 332 acres of Hugh McKeen survey valued at $840. 1852 is last listing for Aaron Murchison in Burleson County tax records.

Notes on Aaron Murchison - Born in North Carolina about 1821, served in the Texas Rangers and was a Texas Veteran of the Mexican War.

Aaron Murchison died in 1853.

2). Married William L. Baker on June 21, 1855 in Burleson County, Texas. Source: Burleson County Marriages, Volume 1, 1846-1857, page 179

1860 US CENSUS, Burleson County, Texas, Caldwell post office, 28 July 1860, p. 125, 245/242
S. H. Maxwell 29 M farmer $3530 TN
Sam Houston Maxwell 2 M TX
W. L. Baker 27 M farmer $610 IL
C. A. Baker 25 F IL
Henry Baker 3 M TX
Jane Baker 1 M TX

Note from Helen Fagerburg: According to Grandma Kate (Mary Catherine (Kellerman) Rehart), William Baker was injured in the Civil War, and was an invalid because of that, until he died. He went out to California with his wife's family to try to improve his health. The family lived with his wife's brother, George Washington Cole, Sr.

William Baker died 1867 in Rosemead, Los Angeles County, California and is buried in the Savannah Cemetery, Rosemead, Los Angeles County, California.


Pfc. Wilbur N. Carmichael, 19051328, Company D, 30th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division.  Died of Wounds to the left side of his neck on 4 June 1944  near Valmontone, Italy when he was hit by gun fire.  Born on 24 November 1915, he entered the service on 14 January 1941 from San Gabriel, California.

Pfc. Carmichael was awarded 2 Silver Stars, 1 Bronze Star for valorous conduct, the Combat Infantryman's Badge and the Purple Heart.  He received his first Silver Star for "for gallantry in action."  The citation of 7 April 1944 continues, "when enemy attackers began encircling his company's positions south of San Pietro, Italy, the night of 7 November 1943, Private First Class Carmichael voluntarily took his light machine gun and ran 40 yards through mortar fire which fell within 40 feet of him and machine pistol bullets which cut the ammunition belt on his gun, to go into position on the exposed forward slope of a small knoll.  Remaining 25 minutes under enemy mortar and small arms fire from positions 75 yards away, he placed effective fire on the Germans, killing eight and wounding two.  his brave actions aided in repulsing the counterattack and reflect great credit on himself and the military service."

His Bronze Star medal was awarded posthumously for valorous actions against the enemy in Italy on 28 May 1944.  The General Order for his posthumous Silver Star on 3 March 1945 is missing from the National Archives.

He is buried at the El Monte Cemetery  in El Monte, California.  He was 28 years old.